We knew it was a case of the utmost importance - a case that could result in the death of our client.
I am pleased to report that an ACLJ legal team has successfully obtained asylum in the United States for a 22-year-old woman from Indonesia - a woman who left the Muslim faith and converted to Christianity. As a result, she faced grave danger - including the threat of death - if she returned to her home country.
Our client came from a family where her Indonesian father is a devout Muslim, and her Chinese mother is Catholic. Our clients father imposed his strict Islamic faith through physical and emotional abuse. He would even beat his children - including our client - with belts, broom sticks, and other objects.
When our client was enrolled in a Catholic school as a child, her father wanted nothing to do with her. In fact, her father said that if she chose the Catholic faith over Islam, he said he would kill her. At age 17, when she had to make an official declaration of her chosen religion on her government-issued identification card, her father forced her to sign the ID application that he had completed for her. As a result, our clients official Indonesian ID lists her as a "Muslim."
Through a series of events, our client converted to the Christian faith in 2008. After notifying her father of her decision, he expressed outrage and began lashing out against his daughter and his wife because of the conversion. Her mother was badly beaten and our client quickly became a target for abuse and found herself in life-threatening danger because of her Christian faith.
In Indonesia, Islamic groups call anyone who leaves the Islamic faith a "murtad" - an apostate. Because of her conversion, and the worsening climate in Indonesia with bombings, riots, and increasing violence, our client knew that as a "murtad" she would not be able to practice her Christian faith openly without the risk of being attacked or even murdered.
Then, she was able to attend college in the United States and for the first time in her life she could practice her Christian faith without shame - without fear. Our client was encouraged by friendships that she made with those in her church group in Washington State and a Campus Crusade for Christ chapter on college campus.
She also knew that returning to Indonesia could result in a death sentence. Our legal team went to work to ensure that she would remain here - in this country - free from religious persecution.
We began working with an office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Washington State on her behalf. We presented evidence to the federal agency about the dangerous situation that Christian converts face in Indonesia. We helped prepare her affidavit, oral testimony, and affidavits of witnesses (her pastor who baptized her in Indonesia, her pastor here in the U.S. and others).
We were successful in explaining to the federal agency that our client faced grave danger - including the real possibility of death - if she returned to Indonesia. The USCIS granted our request for asylum ensuring that our client would be able to remain in the U.S.
This is an important victory for religious freedom and underscores the fact that religious persecution is a fact of daily life in many parts of the world. Christian converts who leave the Muslim faith are not only ostracized and treated as outcasts - they find themselves in real physical danger and often face life-threatening situations.
We're extremely pleased with the outcome of this case and will continue to work with those who need protection for simply expressing or exercising their Christian faith.